‘What We’re Up Against” or “The Test of Everyone’s Patience and Problem Solving Skills”

This past weekend, I was fortunate to have the opportunity to be a camera operator for a filmed play at the Quintero Theater. The play, entitled “What We’re Up Against”, is a feminist play originally written in the 1990s, but the director and dramaturg decided to set it in modern, pandemic times and had all the actors wear masks the entire time. Overall, the play was super interesting and the actors did a phenomenal job. The most exciting part, however, was trying to keep on schedule and get things to go right. Initially, the whole black box theater was taped on into sections, with each section being a different location with its own furniture and set pieces. However, upon seeing how the shots would be framed, the director chose to ditch the section idea, and we instead moved the furniture based on where the lighting would best suit the scene. Along with that, we decided to film based on location, rather than chronological order as previously planned, just to make things a little simpler. To top it off, though, was the issues with our switcher on Quicktime, which would occasionally cut out on us for mysterious reasons. The whole company and crew preserved on through all of these obstacles and we managed to film the whole play with enough options for the director and editors to create the best finished product. In the end, I really enjoyed the experience and I was glad to be in a production that was both safe and successful.

Every Frame a Painting

I thought I would join Emily in sharing my 36 frames project. A challenge I thoroughly enjoyed and brought back memories of shooting photos in downtown Houston.

I had two of my friends be my “models” in this project. Not to say that came without hesitation but still I appreciate them helping me.

I chose “Somewhere in the City” by Paul Kelly and after my initial listen I knew what I wanted to do. I hope if i misinterpreted the song that I at least did a decent jobs in interesting it in my own way. I used alot less photos than 36, because I wanted the video to avoid being TOO linear.

The song to me was about a guy who thinks the woman he was trying to see is out living her life without him, and it doesn’t sit well with him. He thinks she is with someone else, somewhere in the city.

Initially I wanted everything he said to be true but I thought that was too literal. What if what he is thinking isn’t true, and she is simply enjoying the city for herself.  She is alone the whole time, even sitting with her cup of wine alone, because she doesn’t need anyone else.

In the song it says “I feel like committing a crime”. I thought this meant the man was angry,  perhaps because the woman hasn’t returned his messages. So in the last few frames I had my friend bathing in green light, as the man approaches her the light on her face is now red (I was hoping it would be more red as I was simulating a traffic light). Then the last frame is their shadows side by side.

I originally planned to end the video with the red light on her face, but I thought the shadows side by side left it more open ended. He found her, no what? A fight? An argument? A spark of love?

I really enjoyed working on this project despite the limitations we were given. I kept thinking of house I would do what I do in editing, without editing. I messed around a lot with my camera setting but ended just changing the aspect ration to 16:9 and bringing a light and tripod downtown with me. At the end of the night I was a sweaty mess and was worried I may not have everything I wanted, but I think that feeling is universal after every shoot. I wanted to trust in myself and went home arranging the photos.


404 – 368

I’d be lying if I said I captured 36 perfect frames on my first try, but the challenge was still very real.

Tell a story with 36 unedited stills – mine, a story of Midnight Rain.

Challenge number 1: Choosing a song. I didn’t want to alter or modernize the story if I didn’t have to, and this one felt like one that I could tell with the least amount of people.

Challenge number 2: I was one of those people. My assumption was that I’d save time having my boyfriend take the photos of me rather than setting up a tripod. The truth of the matter is debatable. He obviously didn’t have the same vision as me, so it took dozens of photos before I would be content enough to move on. Thankfully, he was patient enough to take enough that I would have several to choose from.

Challenge number 3: Time. I suppose I could’ve searched for another willing participant to be the subject of my story, but I knew I could take advantage of my boyfriend’s willingness to help the way I wouldn’t be able to with another person. This means I had to wait until he was available to shoot, and the sun doesn’t wait for anyone, so we didn’t have many opportunities to shoot the daytime shots.

Challenge number 4: Lighting. Getting a clear, properly exposed nighttime shot is maybe not my expertise. The more light I tried to add, the more it would highlight walls and backgrounds that I didn’t want to be highlighted. With the limited equipment I had, however, I’d say I made it work. But again, not without the patience of Brady to let me try several different angles and frames.

Challenge number 5: Mimicking rain. I guess I’m glad it wasn’t actually raining, but it was harder than I thought to try and hose realistic water droplets onto the windows for convincing enough shots of rain. It’s a good thing I used my phone, and it’s a good thing my phone is waterproof.

Challenge number 6: A challenge that arose from not getting the 36 frames the first time. Having to go through 404 photos to find the ones that would tell my story best wasn’t fun, but it came with the territory of trying to be safe.

It’s hard judge to the final result when the subjects are myself and my boyfriend telling the story. It makes it a little cheesy for me, but I’m content with what I could accomplish given my limitations. And for the last time (in this post), I’m very grateful for Brady.



Seeing my photography printed for the first time

Image of two printed photographs

In 2018 I bought a Lumix G7 as a starter camera for videography. Since then I’ve taken literally 1,000 times more photos than videos with the camera.

Until recently, my photos never really left the folders in my computer. I’d send a few to close friends to get opinions and even shared them with a talented professor to get advice. It took time to feel confident in my photography and of course a lot of practice. This past summer I finally felt ready to share my photos with more people and made an Instagram account dedicated to my photography. You can find me @madtakespics . At this point I hadn’t seen my photos outside Instagram’s tiny little squares or my 15in computer screen.

Earlier this month was my mom’s birthday and all she asked for this year was a few prints of my photos to display in her office. I was relieved that this year, gift shopping would be much easier than past birthdays. I had the photos printed at The Photo Lab off of Antione Dr. in Houston. When I went to pick them up, the owner, George showed me my prints to make sure everything was printed to my liking. I loved them. I got home and looked at them again, more proud of my work than I had been staring at it through the computer screen. I could see detail where I couldn’t see it before, all without looking at a cropped and zoomed portion of my image.

Having my photos printed changed how I view my photography. Until my mom asked for prints, it wasn’t something I seriously considered doing. Now I want all my photos printed so I can examine them better. I want to edit and print and then edit and print again (though I don’t think my bank account will allow for this).  And after enough revisions I want to print a final for myself.

Thoughts from Home September Edition

Hello, I am David Rubio. I’ve been working with HRK and the 4381 productions crew for a while now and I thought it would be cool to look around the blog. I also had a weird impulse to write something. So here goes I guess.

Working on The 8th Day was great. I was late most of the time but we pulled though thanks to my awesome crew. Hopefully I can get the data to my editor soon. Hannah was great as well. It was awesome to see everyone work there ass off for Matty. Really glad he got his film made. I hope he can look back at his complete project and know that he created something amazing.

One of my favorite films currently is Spirited Away. I recently watched during quarantine and wow did I cry like a baby. It was such a beautiful story from beginning to end. The art was amazing. The music was amazing. Miyazaki is the great animator to touch paper. It is streaming on HBO Max (or talk to me, I can let you borrow my DVD or Blu-Ray copy)

I’ve recently bought Super Mario 3D All-Stars, a remaster collection of Super Mario 64, Super Mario Sunshine, and Super Mario Galaxy. I used to play these as a child, so I’ve beaten the first two fairly easily. The games do have slight input lag but you get used to it. Really should have been 30 bucks since I’m pretty close to finishing all the games but oh well.

If you read all this, Thanks! Here is a reward.

Mulan has the worst Live Action

I have seen a lot of remakes in the past years and for some reason, they are either good when they are non compared to the original or at least passable when compared in my opinion. A well-known offender of this is Disney. I am almost certain that their goal is to remake every animated classic into a live-action adaptation. For the most part, they have been able to keep some resemblance of the magic the original held even if it can still be seen as bad. Examples of these would be Aladdin, Beauty and the Beast, The jungle book, Lion King, and so on. Even though they are not as good as the animated versions, you can still find something to enjoy about them. That is why for the most part I am ok when they do live actions even though an argument can be made that Disney is just running out of original ideas.

Their latest endeavor which was the live-action Mulan is currently not doing too well in terms of rating. I was already skeptical about it when they took out the music and memorable characters like the dragon, the cricket, and everyone’s favorite grandma. When I heard this I thought they were going for a more realistic portrayal of her story and the weight that it cared back then so I was ok with the changes. I just recently saw it and it was just bad. As a movie and as live-action, it was just a bad movie in every aspect of the word. Scenes that held a very significant and emotional meaning in the animated movie where rushed in the live-action. The action scenes in the live-action were full of jump cuts which made it difficult to track what was going on. Without spoiling the movie, some decisions made in the live-action made it seem like they were just looking for extra money and a way to sell to the Asian market which shows in the movie.

Overall, I normally recommend people watch the live actions of shows so that they can craft there own opinion and I still recommend you do but if you chose not to watch this movie, you would be saving time and money. This is by far the worst live-action I have ever seen.

The Incredible Feeling of Having Your Art Validated

I am not sure if this will be a long piece but I think it is something that a lot of us here will understand as artists. You work so hard on your craft and continue to look forward without taking time to reflect on what you have worked on before. The reflection really happens as you are working but you really don’t have all the time to sit and reflect. There is that moment that you cannot explain, that moment someone buys your photograph for the first time, your short film wins an award for the first time, or in my case, people donate almost $3,000 to your upcoming project.

Now, I want to preface this with I do not perceive myself with someone who has an online presence, but whether it is podcasting, photography, or filmmaking I always give every ounce of myself. I never shy away from showing the person I am, and I guess that worked out for me in the end. About a week ago I launched the crowdfund for my upcoming short film, Before I Leave (2021), and in the first three days I had already hit almost $2,000. A lot of this was from family members but also a significant amount is from listeners of my podcast and people who genuinely want to see me succeed. This is a very foreign feeling to me, especially when it is accompanied by monetary support.

In a way, this motivates me to do better on this project but it also worries me that what I create may not be enough for those who donated. I know these may be intrusive thoughts of mine telling me that I do not deserve this support. but these are very real feelings that we as artists encounter all the time. The world works in different ways but I never thought it would work like this for me. Hopefully, soon I can update you all that my film is fully funded but for now, we are almost there. I am excited and motivated to keep going on this journey with me and my team.

Now, I do not want to be the one to ask for money but you can share the link around. Thank you all so much.


On the Bayou

Hello 4381 Productions,

Here is the most recent edit of my 36 Frames project, entitled “On the Bayou”. I won’t tell you what the song the story is based on, I’ll leave that up to y’all to guess. The comments are open to any and all constructive criticism. This was my first time using a DSLR camera and I am not too well-versed in still photography, so any notes are welcome. Hope you all enjoy it.